S&P 500 Rises Above Record as Microsoft, Apple Lead Tech Rally

Bloomberg

U.S. stocks advanced, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index trading above its record close, as technology shares rallied for a second day and the dollar earlier fell to a four-month low.

Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. added at least 2.1 percent, while the Nasdaq Internet Index jumped 1.6 percent. Computer Sciences Corp. gained 4 percent after a report that the company plans to split in two. Consumer staples and health-care companies in the S&P 500 advanced more than 1.2 percent. Kohl’s Corp. tumbled 12 percent after quarterly sales missed forecasts.

The S&P 500 Index rose 1 percent to 2,118.54 at 2:48 p.m. in New York, above its record close at 2,117.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 176.07 points, or 1 percent, to 18,236.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.2 percent.

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“The bond markets are stabilizing and jobless claims were positive, so it’s giving a more positive spin to the day today,” said Anwiti Bahuguna, senior portfolio manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments. “Modest growth with low inflation doesn’t call for the Fed to react, and the equities markets like that.”The S&P 500 ended little changed on Wednesday amid weaker-than-forecast retail sales and as corporate-deal activity was overshadowed by concern a fixed-income selloff was not done.Economic DataThe dollar is on track for its longest weekly losing streak since October 2013, amid signs the U.S. economy is struggling to gather strength, bolstering the case for keeping interest rates lower for longer. A weaker dollar lessens the drag on the economy and corporate profits as exports become more competitive and imports less attractive to consumers.More from Bloomberg.com: Rand Paul Springs into Action Against George Stephanopoulos, Patriot Act
Jobless claims decreased to 264,000, below the 273,000 projected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The four-week average was the lowest since April 2000. A separate report showed wholesale prices in the U.S. unexpectedly declined in April from the prior month, indicating inflation is well-contained as Federal Reserve officials weigh when to raise the benchmark interest rate.Concern the Fed would raise interest rates even with worsening economic data and predictions for earnings declines have whipsawed stocks between gains and losses in the past six weeks. The S&P 500 is on track to erase its drop for the week. The benchmark jumped the most since March on Friday as data showed hiring bounced back in April.More from Bloomberg.com: S&P 500 Tops Closing Record as Dollar Slides, Treasuries Rise“The dollar’s getting a little bit weaker and the bond market is actually rallying a bit as opposed to what’s been happening for the most of the past few weeks,” said Mark Kepner, an equity trader at Themis Trading LLC, in Chatham, New Jersey. “The jobless claims numbers were also good, and continue to show the job market is getting better, while PPI numbers didn’t show any worries about inflation.”Tech RallyNordstrom Inc. and Applied Materials Inc. are among four S&P 500 companies reporting financial results on Thursday as the earnings season winds down. About 72 percent of the index members that have posted results this season have beaten analysts’ estimates.Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index fell 6.6 percent to 12.85. The gauge, known as the VIX, remains on track for its third straight weekly gain.All 10 of the S&P 500’s main groups gained, led by technology, consumer staples and health-care companies. Microsoft, Apple and Facebook Inc. all rallied more than 2.1 percent to lead tech. Adobe Systems Inc. added 3.4 percent to its highest in two months.Shake ShackFacebook climbed 3.9 percent, the most in three months. The jump adds to a 1.3 percent gain yesterday, after the company reached a deal with New York Times Co. and eight other media outlets to post stories directly to the social network’s mobile news feed.Consumer companies that draw significant sales and profits from overseas rallied amid the dollar’s retreat. Altria Inc. advanced 2.9 percent, the most since September. Spirits maker Brown-Forman Corp. and Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. added more than 2.3 percent.Health-care shares in the benchmark index rose for the first time this week, paced by gains in device makers Boston Scientific Corp. and St. Jude Medical Inc., which rallied at least 3.3 percent. Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc. climbed 1.2 percent.Shake Shack Inc. added 3.3 percent, paring an earlier jump of almost 14 percent, after first-quartersales beat projections, helped by new locations. The chain, which has 68 restaurants, has said it will open 10 new company-owned restaurants this year.Retailers LagRetailers lagged for a second day after Wednesday’s disappointing April sales report and Kohl’s weaker-than-forecast sales results today. Kohl’s shares fell the most since Nov. 2012, down 12 percent. Target Corp. lost 3.5 percent, its biggest drop since October, while Best Buy Co. Inc. also slid 3.5 percent.Harley-Davidson Inc. dropped for a fourth consecutive day, down 2.4 percent to its lowest level since October. Shares are down more than 17 percent this year.Energy shares in the benchmark index were little changed as oil prices retreated. Transocean Ltd. and Noble Corp. lost more than 2.7 percent.

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